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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

Britain's offer, would express a wish to be an ally of Poland and would
redress the wrongs she had already inflicted on that country.
As a victim of Soviet aggression, the Polish Republic was formally at
war with Russia, but whereas Poland had continued her fight against the
Germans by taking part in the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain, the
Campaign in Norway and in the Battle of the Atlantic and Africa, as well
as in the fierce fighting of the Underground Forces within her occupied
territories she had ceased her fight against the Russians.
According to the last order of the Polish C.-in-C. the Poles had indeed
never even desired to do battle with that country. Invaded by the Soviets
at the most critical moment in her struggle against Germany, the acknow-
ledged enemy number one, Poland, against her will, had become
entangled in a conflict with the Soviet Union. In point of fact, the Poles
had no cause whatever to fight that country; both Powers had already
arrived at a settlement of their grievances in the Riga Treaty. The action
of Russia, however, after her invasion of Poland—the deportation of
Polish citizens, the plunder of their land—had by no means been con-
ducive towards the friendliest of sentiments for the Soviet Union.
The first of the Russo-German battles began on Polish soil, in June,
1941, and the first communiques contained names of well-known Polish
towns. The eyes of the world involuntarily rested upon the Poles and
on their Government, established in London. The sentiments of the
free peoples towards Poland were expressed by Eden, the British Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, when he stated in the House of Commons, on June 24 :
" At a time like this our thoughts go out with heartfelt sympathy to
our Polish Allies. Once again their soil is a battlefield; once again their
people suffer for no fault of their own. The Polish people have had a
hard history. By their courage in a time of unparalleled ordeal they
have earned and they will redeem their freedom. That remains our
pledge!"
But in addition to these sentiments the world attentively awaited the
next move—how would the Poles react to this new situation whereby
the Soviets, their erstwhile foes, were now to become potential allies?
The Polish people were confronted with a hard decision. It was to be
anticipated that, under these circumstances. Hitler would once more
attempt to arrive at an understanding with the Poles. Indeed, shortly
before the invasion of Russia he had tried such an approach, even while
carrying out his policy of extermination. Carefully worded promises
were extended offering to improve the general situation of the country,
but all these attempts on the part of the Germans were unsuccessful.
The Primate of Poland, Cardinal Hlond, then a prisoner, was offered
the position of Regent if he would be prepared to uphold their existing
administration. Each politician who was approached in the hopes of
finding in him a candidate who would eventually co-operate with the
Germans, refused. Certain of them later paid for this refusal with their
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